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Ambassador Theatre Group joins the London 2012 Festival with nationwide playwriting project

Posted: 31 May 2012
Ambassador Theatre Group joins the London 2012 Festival with nationwide playwriting project

Approved by ATG's PR & Communications Officer, David Bradbury

The Ripple Effect by Ursula Rani Sarma
Ambassador Theatre Group:  New Writing, New Play, New Opportunity.

Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) is hosting one of the most ambitious, nationwide, new writing projects seen in recent years to form an integral part of the London 2012 Festival, the spectacular 12-week nationwide celebration running from 21 June until 9 September 2012 bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK.

The Ripple Effect will be a vibrant piece of new writing being premiered in different regions of the UK, and in a final celebration in the West End at a Gala Performance hosted by ATG.

The aim of the project is to connect with young people from diverse backgrounds with limited experience of arts engagement. Individuals will acquire new skills based on the discipline of acting, working with professional artists, theatre staff and peer groups in a cultural workplace and self management.

The Ripple Effect has been commissioned by the ATG Foundation, a charitable trust, established in July 2009,  to support groundbreaking Creative Learning projects in ATG’s 39 venues nationwide.

'As a company, we are all excited by the London 2012 Festival and are well placed to deliver such a large, ambitious project. ATG is using its expertise in both theatre production and participation, alongside its wide geographical reach, to engage with the widest spectrum of young people to give them an opportunity of a lifetime,' said Rosemary Squire, ATG’s Joint Chief Executive. 'The ATG Foundation has played a vital role in the development of The Ripple Effect and the project will complement the high quality work already being delivered nationally by ATG’s Creative Learning Departments.'

Nigel Walmsley, Chair of the ATG Foundation, added, 'The unique aspect of this new initiative is to reach communities who do not have a habit of theatre attendance, and to bring to the table nationally recognised icons such as the West End and the London 2012 Festival, and to make use of the natural uplift and identification these associations can offer.'

Ruth Mackenzie, London 2012 Festival Director, said 'The Ripple Effect new writing project is an exciting and hugely innovative concept and I am thrilled that it will form part of the London 2012 Festival and leave a legacy for the young people involved. The passion for the project shared by the organisers is inspiring and I wish everyone the best of luck with the productions.'

The ATG Foundation has commissioned award-winning Playwright Ursula Rani Sarma to work closely with young people across the nation to deliver this original piece of work. Ursula is a critically acclaimed Writer whose plays have been performed, published and translated extensively in the UK and Ireland and on the international stage. Prior to The Ripple Effect, Ursula has written for illustrious companies such as The National Theatre, The Traverse Theatre and The Abbey Theatre amongst others.

Ursula Rani Sarma said, 'As a Playwright, this is an incredibly exciting and ambitious project both in terms of its affiliation with the London 2012 Festival and the opportunity to work with so many individuals throughout the UK. I have seen first hand how much it means to these young people living all around the country to be part of the Olympic celebrations and to serve as the inspiration for an original play written for them to perform. It feels like a truly ground breaking project and I am thrilled to be involved.'
Ursula will be working with 27 groups of young people across the UK to produce five short plays of approximately 15-20 minutes that are linked thematically and loosely inspired by the concept of the Olympic Truce. Each piece will stand alone and will also fit together chronologically to deliver a complete full length play.  All five plays will be performed together to create a powerful piece of theatre at the West End Gala being planned to showcase this exciting work.
The initial creative consultation phase will involve Ursula travelling to meet with several hundred young people, from various backgrounds, around the UK, and will be supported by ATG's highly experienced Creative Learning Managers. After this period of absorption and inspiration, Ursula will then write the five plays that will make up The Ripple Effect.

Highly regarded Theatre Director, Kully Thiarai, is the Creative Director on this project. She has led a number of companies including Contact Theatre, Leicester Haymarket and Red Ladder and worked with a diverse range of artists and companies. Her recent credits include: Soul Exchange (NTW10) with National Theatre Wales for their inaugural year; Wired Aerial’s As The World Tipped; Digital Tea Dance with Bangor University and curator, along with Alan Lane, of the first Transform season at West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2011.

Jack Bradley (National Theatre, Sonia Friedman Productions) is on board as Literary Agent and Dramaturge.
Kully Thiarai, The Ripple Effect Creative Director, said, 'Enabling young people to unleash their imagination, develop their curiosity and explore the big ideas and issues of our time are core to this project. For the participants, the opportunity to creatively come together and deliver a brand new work as part of the London 2012 Festival, is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Each individual will be part of a network of voices, ideas and stories that will help shape and inspire the writing of the five pieces; culminating in their voices being heard locally and in the heart of the West End. The experiences these people share, the confidence they will gain and the stories they will help make will have a lasting effect on everyone involved.'

Funders for The Ripple Effect include West Dunbartonshire Council, South Lanarkshire Council, Stenhousemuir Primary and LINKES Project (Glasgow), The Empire Theatre (Merseyside) Theatre Trust Ltd (Liverpool), the Richmond Theatre Trust and Gentoo (Sunderland). The project is sponsored by John Good and Shaun Webb Design.

Co-founded by Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire in 1992, the Ambassador Theatre Group Ltd (ATG) is the largest owner/operator of theatres in the UK with 39 venues and an internationally recognised theatre producer. It provides theatre ticketing services through ATG Tickets. Current and recent ATG co-productions include South Pacific, All New People, Ghost the Musical, Posh/Jumpy (Royal Court at the Duke of York’s), 9 to 5 The Musical, Dandy Dick, Matthew Bourne’s The Nutcracker!, Legally Blonde the Musical, Monty Python’s Spamalot, The Misanthrope, West Side Story, Elling, Guys and Dolls, Exit the King and The Rocky Horror Show.

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